How to Tell if a Company's Culture Is a Fit for You

Career Advice
minute read

As a job candidate, you want to know how well you will fit into a company's culture—because finding a workplace match can significantly play into your job satisfaction and success.

How to Tell if a Company's Culture is a Fit for You!

As a job candidate, you want to know how well you will fit into a company's culture—because finding a workplace match can significantly play into your job satisfaction and success. When you are a good fit for a company's culture, you are more likely to be engaged in your work, feel supported by your colleagues, and be more productive. You are also less likely to leave the company before you're ready to make your next career move.

Still, identifying when a work environment is right for you can be more complex than deciding whether the job description appeals to you. And it's different from landing an interview too. You have to weigh various factors to determine whether it pays to accept a job in a particular company. 

What does it mean to find a company culture that fits you?

When we talk about a company's culture, we mean the shared values, beliefs, expectations, behaviors, and attitudes that drive how a workplace operates. These elements determine how work gets done and how it feels to be on staff at that business—which strongly affects your everyday job experience. 

A culture fit means that you and your employer gel. Your approach to your role matches their expectations. Their values and actions align with your approach to life and work, and vice versa. Finding that alignment at your job will help you to thrive.

8 ways to discover a potential employer's workplace culture

So, how do you recognize whether the company you're interviewing for is a good match? Here are some practical tips. 

1.    Research the company's online presence.

This step is not just for prepping for interviews. Use it to learn what their workplace is like too. Spend time on their website, seeing what their main talking points are. How do they describe their mission and vision? What do they highlight about themselves on their press page? 

2.    Scope out the company’s social media presence.

Another way to research the feel of a company is to visit their social media presence. Start with their company page on LinkedIn, and look at how they describe themselves. Are they formal? Laid back? Corporate? Transparent? Check out their employees on LinkedIn to see what type of people work there, how diverse they are, and how long, on average, they remain there. Then scan other social channels to see how active they are, how they respond to clients, etc.

3.    Make sure the job description reflects your values and beliefs.

Take the time to read the job description carefully. You’re not just looking for what the job’s role is, but also how the company talks about it. Does the description mention work-life balance? Or does it imply you’ll be working overtime? Do the words have a formal flavor, perhaps indicating that roles are clearly defined and siloed? Or, do you get the sense that roles may fluctuate, and you’ll need to be flexible with your day-to-day projects?

4.    Listen for clues during the interview.

Pay attention to the keywords and phrases the interviewer uses. What they emphasize can provide insights into what matters most to the company. When it’s time for you to ask questions, ask about the culture of the workplace. If you noticed anything on the company’s website or socials that resonated with you, mention them and ask how they are seen in day-to-day work.  and how they align with yours. Find out how they approach problem-solving. 

5.    Gather details while you visit.

Arrive a little early for your interview, and see what details you notice while you wait. Is the office clean and organized? Is it bright and personalized, or neutral and formal? (Neither is right or wrong—it’s all about what fits you as an employee.) Make small talk with the receptionist and others who may be nearby. Are they relaxed or stressed? 

6.    Ask for an on-site test run.

While you’re interviewing, ask if you can walk through the workplace or participate in a test run of your role. Your goal is to get a taste of what it's like to be employed there. Notice the little details — such as how people dress, what desks look like, and how teammates speak to each other. Ask what they're working on, what their goals are, and what challenges they face. Their answers will give you an insider's look at how the company operates day-to-day. 

7.    Talk with your network.

Ask your network if they know anyone who has worked at the company. If so, see if you can set up a casual meeting to learn about the company's culture. It’s also possible that someone in your network has been a client of that company, or a vendor, and their insights may also be valuable. 

8.    Know your priorities. 

Be purposeful in your job search by being mindful of what type of work environment suits you best. And know your career goals too. If you want to learn as much as you can and get exposure to all areas of a business (a common goal for entry-level workers), a workplace that demands a lot of your time but gives you many opportunities can be worthwhile. On the other hand, if you need to safeguard your time so you can be with your young child in the evenings, then look for a company that values work-life balance and encourages you to take personal days regularly.

Summing it up

It's important to remember that you are not obligated to accept a job offer. Even if it looks good on paper, if you sense that your personal goals and values don’t mesh with the company’s, you can always decline the offer and keep looking for other opportunities that allow your values and your job to be in better alignment.